Mindfulness- the utter misery of being awake

There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

Leonard Cohen

Next to me Steve rolls over to bury his good ear in the pillow. He clutches the comforter and pulls it to his face to better create a cocoon.

He is not a morning person.

I have been awake for an hour but just like my husband I am not quite conscious. Despite weeks of morning meditation my first instinct is still to hit the mute button.

I have my phone in my hand flipping through the color coded screens in an attempt to distract myself from me. Earlier this year I removed candy crush in all of its incarnations in an effort to tune in rather than tune out. I loaded Duolingo and TED, I re-upped my subscription to Lumosity and figured that upgrading my apps would turn mindlessness into mindfulness. So far that has not proven true.

I have chronic shoulder pain. Most of the time I brace against it, hold my breath and create tightness from head to toe. There are some magical moments when I accept the pinch. When I breathe into it and allow myself to notice the feelings in full force. This always helps ease the pain. When I think I am protecting myself by ignoring what is happening in my body in fact I am doing the opposite, giving the pain the power.

Most of the day I rush through things to get to the next step. I brush my teeth for not quite the two recommended minutes because who has the patience for that. I tug up the bed covers too close to the pillows then too far to the foot and then back again like that time in 8th grade when I cut my own bangs.

I scurry down the stairs to make breakfast and race to unload the dishwasher before the water for my tea boils. I always lose. Always. And start my day as a labelled loser. Then I cram things into my back pack and speed walk to the coffee shop where I open my computer. And so it goes from there one step to the next rushing to nowhere from nothing all in an attempt to ignore whatever pain may be beneath my skin.

Just like Steve I create a cocoon, buffering myself from thoughts that might be painful and the misery of being awake.

But really it is only the crack in things that lets the light in.

So yesterday I took my time getting ready for my mammogram. I figured if I could stay in the moment while my boobs were being smooshed I really could be present for anything. I appreciated the warmed puke pink gown. I joked with my fellow waiting room lady about wearing the same outfit. I noticed how clean the hallway was and made myself a peppermint tea.

In the room I kept my breathing evenĀ as my armpit was impaled by a cold plastic shelf and my breast was flattened into a crepe. Because those are even skinnier than pancakes. Then it was over and I was walking home uphill in the 74 degree sun. I walked slowly to avoid losing my breath.

It is not so scary going slowly.

This morning I think back on my leisurely walk in the sunshine. Next to me Steve rolls over and opens his eyes just a bit and lets the light shine in.

Wondering what got me motivated to stay in the moment?